“Did you……… really read this number of books in such a short time?”
I looked up from the book I was reading, Monster, and addressed the person who disturbed me in my precious reading time.
“Ah, Sherry, you came.” I snapped my book shut after placing a bookmark. “These books? Ah, I just skimmed through them to see if they were interesting or not.”
I don’t think she would believe me if I told her that I read four novellas in just two hours.
“And this.” She picked up ‘Monster’. “Caught your eye?”
“It’s really interesting; perhaps you should give it a read.”
“What’s it about?”
She flipped the book, perhaps to see if a synopsis for the book was printed behind it.
“It’s about a Hero who’s fighting to save the world from monsters. The Hero fights day and night, day after day, killing the monsters so that he can protect humans and avenge his love.”
“I see.” She smirked. “And, what’s the twist?”
Heh, she caught on?
“It turns out that the Hero has a split personality, that of the King of the Monsters. It’s a story about how those personalities learn of the existence of the other, and after acknowledging each other as both of them were fighting to protect what is precious to them, they embark on a journey to find out just who is the real owner of that body; the Hero or the Monster King.”
It’s a really good idea for a plot, and the way the author captured the conflict between those two personalities is really interesting.
“What I really liked was the realism of this book. The main reason the Hero could acknowledge the Monster King inside him was because both of them were alone. This got me thinking; if the Hero protects humanity, then who protects the Hero?”
Sherry pursed her lips and stared at the book in her hand, as if imploring it to give her the answer.
“Well, let’s keep the mundane matters aside and focus on why I called you here today.” She put the book back on the table. “I’m appointing you as the representative of your group.”
Or something like the class president, but I cannot say that out aloud. Damn, I have to be too careful around her.
“Yes, you are perfect for the job. I mean, I don’t think I can ask people like Thor or Kamia, now can I?”
Sherry is perfect for the job because she’s the most level-headed person in her group.
“Well, that is true.” She smiled wryly. “So, what exactly is my job?”
“You are the line that connects me to the Heroes. Your main job is procuring information for me; everything from their personalities, habits, even crushes, to their powers, abilities, physical dispositions.”
“That……… would be a bit difficult.”
“But I’m certain you can pull it off. I don’t need all of them at once. You can proceed slowly and steadily.”
She nodded, and then tilted her head; a calculated move on her part.
“But why do you need this much information? And why can’t you get it yourself?”
“A shady man who wears a mask versus a cute girl who has been through thick and thin with them; who do you think they are more likely to trust and open up to?”
In fact, if anyone opened up to me so easily, then I’d be pretty worried about them.
“That is…… also true. But why?”
“To turn these brats into warriors.”
Or something similar to that.
“Warrior?” She raised her eyebrows. “Not Heroes?”
“Sherry, I asked the same question from Michael, but what do you think it means to be a Hero?”
“To protect humanity………I guess?”
Why was there a question mark at the end of her sentence?
“But that’s just what everyone tells you. What does it mean for you?”
“For me?” She crossed her arms and frowned, stroking her chin in the process. “Hmm, I have never thought about that.
“Really? So these guys just summoned you, told you that you are Heroes and you must protect humanity, and you just agreed to that?”
Who the fuck does that? Does she have zero sense of danger?
“Of course, I didn’t.” She giggled. “But as we fought and fought, and lost our comrades, I guess we naturally came to accept that fact.”
I can see where she is coming from.
“I see. Then I need you to think about this now. That would be your first assignment.”
“Is it really that important?”
“Motivation based on the words of others doesn’t last long. You’ll never win against Solomon if you don’t even know what you fight for, and what you live for. You are dismissed for today.”
“Is that so?”
She furrowed her brows, but accepted my words for the time being and left the library.
Anyway, as I’d thought, Michael is not the only one who doesn’t understand the meaning of the title ‘Hero’. For them it’s just a fancy label put on them for being the ‘Knights of Justice’. They are fighting to protect humanity and to bring down justice, yet they don’t even comprehend what justice actually is.
I opened the Properties screen which displayed the description of the ‘Hero’ title.
HERO: A title bestowed by the Gods. Under the effects of this title, the status limits are removed and the growth and learning rates are increased by 10000%.
That’s it. This is what it means to be a Hero. All that bullshit about protecting humanity and upholding justice was sprung on them by the weak. ‘Protect humanity’; that’s the shackle they created in order to control a power greater than theirs, and they succeeded masterfully at it. They feared the power that could bring about their destruction, so they directed it at an outside enemy; the demons.
I’m sure those kids have also seen this description on their own status screens, but never bothered to look at it in this way.
I picked up the book ‘Monster’ and opened the page I had left the bookmark at. As my eyes registered the words marked on the page, a scene from the distant past played in my head
‘What is it that you fight for, Samuel Hayden?’
Her lonely eyes gazed into mine as her lips curled into a smile. And the answer I came up with was-
Evening, after the 14th bell.
I left the library and made my way towards the training ground behind the mansion. As I could see from the window in the hallway, everyone had already gathered.
After some time, I finally reached that place.
“Hey there, Samael.” Lantz returned my greeting. “Cecile here told me that you brutally thrashed the Heroes. Is that true?”
“That’s obviously not true, Lantz.” He scowled. “I brutally demolished them. There’s a clear distinction.”
The next moment, he burst out laughing.
“Hahahahaha! Demolished! Yeah, I’ll remember that.”
“Thank you. Now.”
I turned to the Heroes, but there was a certain anomaly.
“…….Michael, Thor. Why are your faces bruised and swollen?”
They first glanced at each other, and then averted their eyes.
Is it that? That infamous ‘talking with their fists’ that is said to be a thing among ‘men’? Did they fight each other so that could come to an understanding, a middle ground? Then why didn’t they heal those injuries? I’m pretty sure that Sherry can heal wounds of that level with ease. So why? To keep them as trophies?
I do not understand. Why not talk like civilised people?
“I’m announcing this for everyone present here; from today onwards, unauthorised duels are prohibited. If you want to duke it out for some reason, then you’ll have to get my permission first.”
I would be pretty troubled if they accidentally killed each other, after all.
The others stared at Michael and Thor with blank expressions, who in turn averted their gazes even more.
“Anyway, are you ready for some thrashing- cough– for some training again?”
The replied weakly while I decided to ignore the whispers saying ‘He totally said thrashing, didn’t he?’.
“I asked!” I shouted. “Are you ready for this!?”
Gosh, I’m becoming a P.T. teacher, aren’t I?
“Good! Your task is simply to touch me, and I will not attack you. But this time, every magician can use only one magic spell, while the physical fighters are prohibited from using any skill or spell. The offenders would be severely punished.”
Voices of dissatisfaction arose as I deprived them of their basic methods of fighting, but I spectacularly ignored them.
15 minutes later, my classmates had exhausted all their tactics while others had broken the rules, and now lay on the ground defeated and tired. Different from this morning, they suffered only minor injuries, except for those who had broken the laws of course; I knocked them out with a strong punch, which sometimes resulted in some broken bones.
Right now, Sherry was healing them. This was her training.
“You could go a little easier on them, don’t you think so?”
As I was wondering whether to continue or not, Cecile spoke up.
“I could go a little harder as well.”
“Please don’t do that.”
“As you wish, my lady. I’m just trying to improve their basics; they might have tremendous abilities, but those are all for naught if they don’t know how to properly use them.”
“Yes, Lantz had the same opinion as you.”
Are we getting closer now? There is still one more issue that must be tackled, but before I could bring it up, Cecile spoke up again.
Was the hesitation in her voice just my imagination?
“I have one more request for you.”